Currently Reading: Snow in August

Hello all you wonderful readers. I’ve started a wonderful book that I’m certain ive read before but not so sure when. Snow in August is by novelist and newspaper writer Pete Hamill. I was introduced to him by his book Forever, about a man “cursed” to live forever until he found the One who could set him free. Great book by the way. If you can find it please consider reading it. Its amazing.

But this one is from the perspective of a child in 1947 post war NYC. It deals with issues of racial and religious bigotry and one young person’s coming of age in a world of differences and realizing that what makes us the same is more important than what divides us. Important message for these crazy times we find ourselves in today.

Let’s see how I do, but I’m thinking it may take me all of August to read Snow in August. So… what are you reading?

-mike

Finished Reading: The Novel by James Michener

Surprisingly enjoyable read

I just finished this book in a marathon Sunday reading sprint. Actually, it’s only the second Michener that I’ve read, the other was Space in 1985 about the origins and history of the Space Program in the United States. As I remember, that one took me a very long time and I felt it was a bit sloggy. Although my recollection may be tainted by my memory from 35yrs ago. This one, The Novel about the process of writing, publishing and the distribution of stories and fine literature, was easier to stick with and finish as it drew me in to the narrative.

I was afraid that this Michener would be too detailed and dense with facts and figures, history and minutia as I remembered Space to be. And although the beginning of the book, from the perspective of the older Mennonite writer coming to what he received as the end of a long and successful career, was a bit rough and slow… the rest of the story and the people and the places and situations were more than enough to grab and hold my attention and whisk me into the story and increase my interest with every turned page. Overall, I enjoyed this book, the characters and the landscape of the Pennsylvania Dutch which centered and lent it’s charm and deep traditional values to the story. Well worth the time taken, even if you take more than I did to finish it. I can definitely see why my mom and dad’s bookshelves were filled with James Michener’s thick but substantial volumes.

Next Up??

My Next reads will be Killing Floor by Lee Child, the first of the Jack Reacher novels, and Dune Messiah the 1969 follow up book by Herbert to his classic and award winning book Dune.

So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Finished Reading: Sapiens

Again, it took awhile

But I finally finished this book. It’s very comprehensive and deals with biology, history, with a lot of politics and economic thrown in for good measure. I recommend the read, but there’s too muchnin there to actually do a review.

I’m still reading The Secret of Santa Vittoria and will be reading Frank Herbert’s Dune after that. So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Currently Reading: Sapiens and Omaha

Good morning all you readers out there. In my continuing journey to read my mom and dad’s books, having finished The Road to Gandalfo by Robert Ludlum (pen name Matthew Sheperd) from 1975 , I turn my attention to the follow up book he published in 1992… The Road to Omaha.

But you might also notice that I’m starting to read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari as well. I mean at the same time. Not sure if I’ll get thru both by the end of February, but that will be my goal.

Good reading all. -mike

Happy New Year 2020: Reading Plans

Happy 2020 New Year WordPress family!!!

Good morning all. It’s a new month, a new year and a new decade. I thought I’d share a brief outline of my reading plans for this coming month and year.

My parents are one big reason that I love reading. They had hundreds of books, both hardcover and softback as we grew up. When they both passed, dad 10yrs ago this June and mom 7yrs ago this coming April, we had our job cut out for us in sorting thru and sadly needing to get rid of most of them. We just didn’t have the room for all of them on our shelves.

I managed to keep a small handful though of books that I thought reflected their favorite series, authors and genres. Some I have already read as favorites of my own over the years, others I still have yet to fully explore. I’ve decided that 2020 will be the year to give it a go. This year will be primarily dedicated to reading my mom and dad’s books, starting with Robert Ludlum then moving on to John LeCarre and into James Clavell.

My first two in January will be these two by Ludlum, The Road to Gandolfo and The Road to Omaha. Both written about 20yrs apart, but both with more of a comical flavor than most of his more spy thriller novels.

So happy New Year, happy reading and I hope this coming year brings you and yours all the best that you deserve while showing Grace and mercy and redemption for the mistakes and errors of last year.

-mike

Currently Reading: Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee

I’ve just finished Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick about the journey and beginnings of the Plymouth colony and the events of the first 50yrs that set up Native and Westerner relations for the centuries that followed. Wow… Just wow.

I’m a reader and a buff of 19th century interactions between the two people groups, having read quite a few books in recent years on our subjugation and genocidal conquest of the Native Peoples of the Americas, but I had never delved into the actual history of our National Myths of the founding of our country. Again I say… Wow, just… Wow.

From the very beginning the English and Europeans stole, lied to, tortured and murdered their way to supremacy. Philbrick did a great job of telling the history from actual accounts and records on both sides. Whatever you may think of the Pilgrims and Puritans as you celebrate this Thanksgiving… Please read this book sometime in the next few months. It’s well written and researched and it’s depressing.

From here I’ll be turning my attention to the next book in Non-Fiction November reading. The 40yr old classic on the subject, Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. This one brings us back to the 19th century dealing with testimonies from various Native American sources regarding their interactions with the American Government. Roughly dealing with the period between 1860 and 1890.

I’ve had this book on my shelf from a Bookmans purchase for about 2yrs, but having finished Mayflower I’m feeling inclined to read this one now as well. Hopefully to finish by Thanksgiving or at least the month’s end.

What are you reading? Will you be reading only non-fiction this month? Why not have a go and share.

-mike

Currently Reading: Mayflower

Good morning all you readers out there in WordPress land. I recently finished, Krakatoa by Simon Winchester. Just today actually. It was my fourth book by him that I’ve read.

  • Krakatoa,
  • Korea,
  • The Men who United the States and
  • The Map that Changed the World.

I now turn my attention to Nathaniel Philbrick and his 2006 book Mayflower. My wife read this one a couple of years ago and recommended it as my next Non-fiction November book read. I’ve read and still have on my shelf a book by him titled The Last Stand about Crazy Horse, Custer and the 19th Century American West. I really enjoyed that book and his writing style.

I’m looking forward to reading about the journey and founding of the colonies here in the US. She’s warned me that the last part of the book is most depressing from a historical point of view. Really, what we Europeans did to the Native Peoples who were already here and thriving should be studied and restudied every year around Thanksgiving and Columbus Day. It’s why I have a small collection of books on the impact of European invasion and colonization on the Americas.

So here goes… Currently Reading… Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. What are you reading? Will you be reading only non-fiction this month? Why not have a go and share.

-mike

Ten Word Tuesday: What the Fawkes?

Welcome to his week’s Ten Word Tuesday.
It’s the Fifth of November. And I can think of no reason that it should “ever be forgot”. But the Gunpowder Plot was less about a Democratic over throw of a Totalitarian/Hitlarian government as was the story in one of my¬†favorite movies, V for Vendetta. It was actually a religiously motivated attempt to assasinate a Protestant Christian King James by a Catholic Christian group of men so they could install James’ own Nine year old Catholic daughter in his stead.
Yes, it was an attempted Christian coup that was actually discovered and stopped. Guy Fawkes was far from the “Hero” portrayed by the character in the movie inspired by him. He was the Fall “Guy” who got caught guarding the 36 barrels of explosives that was supposed to blow up the Parliament building.
So, again…Not a heroic event to be remembered positively.¬† It was a Christian religiously motivated bombing intended to topple the Protestant government with a People’s Parliament and impose a Catholic State. The UK marked it as an event never to be forgot because of the attempted assasination of both King James and their government… that thankfully failed.
Neither party saw the other as “True Christians”.
The Plotters were basically a Christian ISIS Terrorist group.

“The fifth of November should never be forgot or misunderstood.”

Now it’s your turn. -mike

Currently Reading: Crossan and Goldberg

Having finished Melville’s classic “big fish” tale, I steer back to starboard and continue my tour thru ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Palestine both historically and archaeologically, as well as biblically as John Dominic Crossan reviews the evidence and historicity for Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.

As I said in a post before, I have a similar volume by said author and scholar on The Historicity of Jesus that I read last year, but I also have an examination by Crossan on The Birth of Christianity on my shelf that I plan to read later on. Most probably not until the first part of 2020.

The other book I just started is Jonah Goldberg’s fascinating march thru the history of American Progressivism and what he considers Liberal Fascism as the “daughter” of not only earlier WW1 and WW2 era Leftist/Socialist fascism but also a Grand Daughter of the totalitarian and philosophical French Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I do tend to lean more politically Libertarian and conservative, what most historians and students of American history would call “classical liberalism”. From the first few pages in the book, having already and only so far read the introduction, it would seem both “liberal” and “conservative” labels have been given a bad rap and misapplied definitions over the decades and even the centuries.

I’m excited to get into the real meat of Goldberg’s book once I’ve finished with Crossan’s In Search of Paul. Why not tell me what you’re reading… what’s next on your TBR list? What have you recently finished? Down in the bucket… you know what to do. And thanks for reading.

-mike

Finished Reading: Moby Dick – The White Whale

Well… wow… well…

I just want to say first off, that Moby Dick is a book I’ve been trying to finish for “well” over a month. This is not going to be a full review of the book or the theme or the subject of Cetology or what I’d call “Cetacide” in the 19th century Atlantic and Pacific oceans. After 462 pages of whales, whaling, crusty and dusty old mariners and sea dogs, I’m tired. “I just… Can’t”, as the kids say these days.

I was warned, every bit as much and nearly as incessantly and vociferously as Starbuck warned the Captain of the Peaquod, that should I up anchor on this classic by Herman Melville, I’d better be prepared to learn all there is to know about whales, their biology, their habitat and ranging habits, and life on board a whaling ship in the mid-1800’s… All before even getting to the famous scenes of battle and confrontation between man and the “White Whale” whose name marks the front cover as well as the minds and hearts of English Majors and readers everywhere.

Many a reader has attempted the voyage with Ahab and his crew only to be worsted by waves and wind, only to be crushed against the rocks and “shoals” of detailed writing and centuries of pages in set up and background. I understand why Melville did it. He wants to immerse you, baptize you, “Ensoul” you as it were in, if it be possible, into the world of Whales and Whaling. He wants to OJT Train you as a “ship mate” of the crew over the course of the vast majority of the book so you understand as he does, as Ishamel does, the business that you have given both your consent and “signature” when you agreed to this adventure.

Moby Dick is first and foremost a story of heartache, loss, bitterness, frustration and misplaced anger and vengeance. The Whale has been anthropomorphized by The Captain as the reason for his own personal losses, not only of his leg, which was easily replaced with a stump fashioned of whale bone, but I think the loss of his youth and vigor at such a late stage in his life. Though only 58yrs old in the story, for a whaler and a captain of a whaling ship in the period, his whole life would have been spent on open seas, away from land, away from any hopes of “normal” family life… for years at a time, with only the briefest of interludes of “Home”.

Though later in the book, during a talk with his First Mate Starbuck, we learn that both men have wives and at least one child, back in Nantucket, we get the impression that Ahab’s is a younger wife and his child is one “of his old age” as was Benjamin in the Old Testament story. Both are growing up without him, as he is aging and he perhaps feels his life is coming closer to a close without them.

The original “Midlife Crisis” story? You be the judge. However, he is older and so much has happened to him that I think he would look for a scapegoat to pin all of his “sins” and consequences of his sins on. Thus, his “monomaniacal” focus and determination to kill the Whale that took one of his “sea legs” away.

Starbuck was the calm second in command/XO who from the first of story to the last bitter and tragic sinking of the ship and all thereon was warning, threatening, imploring, even begging Ahab to desist his delirious and ultimately disasterous hunt. Yet, he never did what I thought he should have, mutiny and turn the ship around. Though late in the book is vignetted his self-talk of perhaps saving the whole ship and crew by shooting his Commander in the head with his own pistol.

All in all, Moby Dick was an enjoyable, yet very difficult and dense read. I can see why it’s a classic held is such high regard since its publication in the 1850s. It’s definitely on my “Recommended” list as a Bucket List Read.

-mike